Airplane Survival

My Beauty Uniform: Cailin McCarthy

Last fall, I met Cailin at our neighborhood playground. While our kids climbed up the slide, we chatted about books and babies. When it was time to leave, I mustered up the courage to ask for her number. Happily, we’ve been friends ever since! She works for Elizabeth Arden and is a genius with makeup. Here, she shares her tricks, including a sweet marriage tip and the lipstick that lasts all day…

What’s your morning routine?
We always get up early since my two-year-old son, Julian, wakes up at 5:30 these days. One of us goes to get him and we all snuggle in bed until 6:15. Then I jump in the shower while my husband Eric makes breakfast. In the shower, I use Aveeno Foaming Face Wash for sensitive skin and Dove body wash. For body moisturizer, I’m pretty loyal to Kiehl’s Creme de Corps. It’s a magical product that somehow doesn’t feel heavy in the summer but is still hydrating enough in the winter. It leaves the most subtle sheen on your skin as well. For my face, I like Elizabeth Arden Flawless Future moisturizer, followed by the hydrating eye cream Ceramides Premiere.

Do you wear makeup?
Yes, yes, yes. I love makeup. I love the transformative power of it—subtle or extreme. It’s always so exciting to me to buy a new product, no matter if it’s from Rite Aid or Barneys.

What do you put on your face everyday?
For years, I’ve used Laura Mercier primer and tinted moisturizer for a base. Then I’ll put on Maybelline Dream Bouncy Blush in Plum Wine. I originally bought it because I thought the name was fun. (Seriously.) Thankfully the product is just as good. I love the texture, which is better than a traditional cream blush since it has a powdery finish on your face. Sometimes I’ll use NARS The Multiple in Orgasm, which is a lifesaver when you don’t have much time. I use it mostly on my cheeks but have put it on my lips and eyes, too. This was one of two products I brought with me to the hospital (along with Maybelline BB cream) when I had Julian. Those two things were exactly what I needed to pull myself together.

What about eye makeup?
I like to highlight the inner corners of my eyes, my brow bones and cheeks with the amazing NARS Copacabana. It’s a very light highlighter and brightens up my whole face. I’ve also used it on my eyelids before. I also love liquid eyeliner and am obsessed with Eyeko Eye Do. It’s really easy to control and glides on for a smooth application. Mascara is something that I’m willing to pay anything for, since it completely transforms your look. There’s an amazing amount of technology behind the brushes and formulas that fascinates me. My favorite, though, is the wonderful Lancôme Hypnose. It never flakes or runs and the brush gives lashes a beautiful separation. Kevyn Aucoin eyelash curler makes a huge difference—it makes lashes look much thicker and longer.

Finally, I’ve always had very thin eyebrows—I would look ridiculous if I try to compete with Cara Delevingne, so I attempt something natural. I use Bobbi Brown eyeshadow to fill in my brows, make them stand out more and frame my face.

Do you remember when you first got into makeup?
Growing up with older sisters, I’d always steal their products. But I remember one time in college, I was reading Allure magazine and there was a picture of a blond model with this perfect red-blue lipstick. I tore out the page, hopped in my car and went to a Clinique counter (which was the least intimidating one). I handed the woman the picture and was like, “Make me look like this.” She sat there until she matched the exact lipstick color for me, and that’s when I realized the power of makeup.

Speaking of lipstick, do you have any recommendations?
A good lipstick can make your skin look better and your eyes more awake; it’s the quickest way to look like you tried. Whenever I say to my husband, “I have nothing to wear tonight” he always responds, “It doesn’t really matter, just wear red lipstick.” NARS Velvet Matte lip pencil in Cruella is amazing—it doesn’t budge. Ilia Beauty, a natural brand, has lovely lip conditioners—I use Arabian Knights, a nice sheer berry. And Fresh Lip Treatment in Rose is great when I just want a hint of color.

How do you change it up for special occasions?
To be honest, I don’t! I think beauty is a lot more democratic than it used to be. I remember growing up, when my mom wore Chanel No. 5, I would think, “It must be their anniversary.” When she dressed up, it was such a different feeling. But now, I like to wear special things all the time. For a fancy party, I would probably wear the same red lipstick I wore to work that day!

What about the makeup for your wedding?
I actually did my own makeup. I had a fear of not looking like myself, and I was terrified of someone else doing it. I figured, if there was one day I wanted to be my true self, it was my wedding day. I was alone in my room, and I felt very nervous while I was putting it on. I wore Stila liquid lipstick in red, and it lasted all night.

How long have you and Eric been married and how did you meet?
I’ve been married for eight-and-a-half years. We became friends in high school, where we were part of the same crew. We tried dating one summer when I was home from college, and when we went back to our separate schools we stayed friends. After college, I moved to LA and he moved to New York. Then a few years later, we bumped into each other at our best friends’ wedding and we were like, “Something’s different.” We dated long distance for a year, and then I moved to New York and it finally became official!

That’s a great story! It reminds me of When Harry Met Sally. Do you have any marriage tips?
Pre-Julian, we had lots of late-night dance parties. We would be up at one in the morning, dancing around the apartment to Kanye. Sometimes we’d go out with friends and would be like, “This is boring. Let’s go home and have a dance party!” It was so much fun. (Now we have family dance parties, but they happen in the daytime.)

What music are you into right now?
On weekday mornings, we tend to play a lot of stuff like Diiv, Father John Misty, Real Estate, Tame Impala. At the end of the work day when we get home with Julian, we have a dance party that usually includes Phoenix, Charlie XCX and Sky Ferreira. Lazy weekend mornings tend to be things like The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Panda Bear, Elliott Smith, The Beach Boys. Music makes everything better.

Do you have any funny little tips or tricks that you swear by?
This might sound completely ridiculous but here it is: Always blow your nose before you do your makeup. It sounds silly, but anyone that has had to do it right after putting on foundation or tinted moisturizer will understand.

What are your “game-changing” beauty products?
I just got the Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask and it is as good as I had hoped—it’s my new favorite product.

How do you care for your hair?
My hair is definitely the most neglected part of my beauty routine. I have a hard time remembering to wash it! My hair is naturally wavy so I never brush it when it’s dry. I am fiercely loyal to Frederic Fekkai Glossing Cream for styling. It is the best for smoothing frizz while not making hair greasy. Sometimes I use Salty Dog Texturizing Spray to help make it a bit more piece-y.

Have you ever tried any daring haircuts?
Not too long ago, I had my head shaved underneath in the back—you couldn’t see it unless my hair was in a ponytail. I got inspired when I was standing behind some girl in line at the grocery store and was staring at the back of her partially-shaved head. I would never be able to shave the side of my head like Rhianna, but this felt like an easier way to do something different. I didn’t have to dye or cut it, and when I wore it down, I could still walk into a meeting and nobody would know the difference. Once Miley Cyrus shaved her head and became “Miley,” I started growing it out, which was terrible, because I couldn’t put my hair up for a year. I’m glad I did it, but I wouldn’t do it again!

What is your nighttime/bedtime routine?
Eric and I are desperately trying to get to bed early now that we wake up before dawn, but it’s been largely unsuccessful since we’re both night people. We need to have time to sit and be, just the two of us. We’ll maybe watch a movie or a television show (we just started watching Better Call Saul). Then I wash my face, apply Philosophy Help Me Retinol Treatment, then moisturize with either Prevage night cream or Crème de La Mer. I also read magazines and blogs before bed, but try not to do it for too long so that I can zone out and truly unwind.

Tell us more about your work! It sounds like a dream job.
I work in global marketing and product development for Elizabeth Arden Fragrances. It’s work, like anything else, but it is fun. I love working on things that will be personal to other people, things they will wear for their most important moments. When they spray a fragrance, it’s because they’re going somewhere special—a date, an event… When you think of something that you’ve worked on and all the places it goes, that’s an amazing feeling.

As someone who works in fragrance, do you have a signature scent?
Fragrance was my escape to a more glamorous life when I was growing up. Right now I’m obsessed with Jo Malone Wood Sage and Sea Salt. I’ll be wearing that for a while, but as springtime rolls around, I will incorporate a fresh scent like Untold, and then in the summer, Bronze Goddess. My new FAVORITE fragrance, though, is Bergamote 22. It’s gorgeous—not too feminine or overpowering—but you inhale it and it’s just dreamlike. Oddly enough, every time I ask Eric if I smell good, he can’t tell the difference. Other people will compliment me, and he’ll still be like, “I can’t smell anything.”

What did the women in your family teach you about beauty?
I am one of six kids. It was a pretty crazy household, to say the least, but my mom always made time for herself—even if it was a five-minute shower. She made time to see friends and be her own person. Looking back, I see how amazing that was, and it’s inspiring to me now that I have a child.

As the mom of a young son, what would you like Julian to learn about beauty, especially as he grows older?
No matter what you look like, people are drawn to the person in the room who is having the best time. Laughter is the most beautiful.

Is there any product or treatment you’ll never do?
I’ll never say never to anything, but I want to try to follow the Frances McDormand aging philosophy if I can!

Last but certainly not least: Do you have an overall beauty philosophy?
I love the worlds of fashion and beauty because they are endlessly creative and fun. But sometimes it’s hard for me not to compare myself to some of those flawless images. When I feel like it’s becoming more harmful than good, I take a break. Time feels like it’s on fast forward since I had Julian and I don’t want to waste any time spinning out on negativity. Sometimes it’s best for me to put down the fashion magazines and just find the perfect song for our little tribe to dance to.

Thank you so much, Cailin!

P.S. Twelve women share their beauty uniforms and how to look extra pretty on a date.

(Photos courtesy of Cailin McCarthy. Interview by Caroline Donofrio)

  1. Lindsay says...

    This is my favorite in the series yet! So down-to-earth and approachable. I did my own makeup for my wedding, too :)

  2. Love the accessible products listed! Just curious – how do you use NARS Orgasm on the eyes? What does it do? Thanks!

  3. OMG she is gorgeous…and I want to hear her music playlist!

    And especially LOVED this — “She made time to see friends and be her own person.” –> SOOOO important!

  4. I really enjoy reading this series, but would be thrilled to see you feature a lady that wears glasses for all of us who are also bespectacled out in the world reading your blog. Please consider, thank you!

  5. Can we find out what jeans she’s wearing in the third photo?

  6. I love these beauty uniforms. It feels like a conversation with a friend, hearing their best beauty finds. I am older than the women you have featured and can’t get away with only a tinted moisurizer and lip gloss. I have wondered after reading these lovely posts if you have considered featuring a woman over 40? I love seeing women who have life experience and sense of style, showing the world that we aren’t invisible.

  7. There’s few things I love more than hearing everyday beauty tips from other women, so thank you so much for this feature. This one, like the previous ones, did not disappoint! I’d like to suggest that you start including the ages of your subjects. I know it would go a long way in helping me decide whether I’d like to try X product if I see what it does for a 35-year-old’s skin vs. a 21-year-old. Most of these ladies are total stunners so it’s very hard to tell their age! Please consider adding this detail in the future … xx

  8. Just wanted to say that your brave friend-making skills inspire me, Joanna!! Too often I dismiss my natural admiration of someone and let the opportunity go by just to avoid embarrassment. I’m gonna try soon to reach out more :)

  9. um…I’m thinking Calin’s beauty uniform is her face…that shot of her following childbirth is gorgwa!

  10. I just pinned 50% of the products Cailin uses. Thanks!

  11. This was a great read..I especially like that line on how people are always drawn to the one who is having the best’s sort of stuck in my head now :)

  12. @Meadow

    Oh yes, I’ve had plenty of bad experiences with natural brands. Hello severe skin allergies! My main concern is brands that are cruelty free.

    Animal testing is just one thing I have a hard time getting past and it’d be great to learn about new-to-me brands that are responsibly making products that are also effective.

  13. Another lovely post! I must echo Julia Brooks’s question: how do you and your friends stay so slim? I find that I frequently walk a thin line between admiration for the women you interview, and intense envy of their lifestlyes, sense of style and slim figures!

    On another note, I did my own makeup for my wedding, and it was a really good experience! I’ll definitely write a more detailed comment on a post of that subject!

  14. Isn’t that 2nd photo Michelle Pfeifer?!

  15. Cailin is so beautiful! :) really stunning!

  16. man! it’s a shame you have no pretty friends!:) I’m taking notes on all of this, but seriously, gorgeous.

  17. definitely my kindred spirit. i met my boyfriend almost EXACTLY the same way with the same timeline and we listen to all the same music and stay up late dancing and i use all of the make up she listed. I am actually kind of creeped out by the similarities!

  18. @Jaclyn P: Funny you should mention that – the thing I really liked about this post is that it wasn’t full of natural products like a lot of the other posts on here! I could actually relate to her since I don’t buy a lot of natural makeup. I tend to stick with the classic luxury brands that work for me. Natural has a downside too… like many natural products can grow icky stuff because the preservative systems are lacking or non-existent. People also tend to have worse allergic reactions to natural products than synthetics. I guess different readers have different perspectives on the same topic. I hope Joanna continues to offer a variety of posts on makeup so neither side feels alienated or like they’re doing something wrong. I’d like to see a roundup of great cosmetics that encompass both natural brands and your less natural (for lack of better term) brands.

  19. Thanks so much for getting the lipstick colour info!

  20. I did my own make-up for my wedding too, and was/am really pleased with the results… Like others, I knew I wanted to look like myself, just prettier! My friends who had their make-up done by professionals really looked like different people, and I just think that’s kinda sad. My husband also isn’t in the “big / obvious make-up” look, and I think he was relieved when he first saw me on The Day.
    I looked at a ton of pictures, read a lot about different products (you’ll DEFINITELY want to investigate foundations that don’t light up in flash pictures), and spent a fair bit on products (most of which I still use today). And, practice, practice, practice.

  21. I really enjoy these Beauty Uniform posts!

    I was also thinking that I’d love to see a roundup post from you featuring only natural and cruelty free makeup products. Personally, I only buy those types of products and it’d be great to find out more about different brands that are both cruelty free but also actually work!

    Maybe it’d be a good challenge for Caroline like the lipstick or deodorant.

  22. She looks stunning, but I agree with Simone, I don’t usually wear red or hot pink lipstick since I am kissing my girls all day. Joanna, how do you manage with Toby, Anton and lipsticks? Haha.

  23. This was a really good one! I want to be her friend and I want to buy all those products.

    Major nods to NARS Cruella. bets color ever.

  24. Love these posts! Another one of my favorites! And she totally inspired me to take more instagram pics with my son (soon to be sons!) I’m so critical about how I look but she makes it look effortless!

  25. You have a lot of supermodel-esque friends – wow!! This is probably my favorite beauty uniform post so far. I can really relate to her. We use a lot of the same brands as well. She seems very down to earth and not pretentious at all. I like her!! And she is just beautiful!! I did my own wedding makeup as well, for the same reason.

  26. This was adorable! I did my own wedding makeup, too. I went to a makeup counter at a department store (these days I’m a loyal Sephora customer, so I would go there) and asked for a wedding makeup tutorial. The lady I worked with was wonderful, she showed me a few different looks, and I opted for a pretty natural look. She helped me pick out products and showed me how to apply them. I bought a bunch of makeup, but of course I was able to use all of it for a lot longer than just my wedding day. It worked out really well.

  27. Would Cailin share the pink lipstick she is wearing in the second picture?
    She’s beautiful! Thanks for this post Joanna!

  28. I live by that lipstick idea. You’re always well dressed and look presentable with a swipe of lipstick. for me, specifically bold shades. One of the best pieces of style advice I think

  29. I totally thought she was Taylor Swift in the photo with the red lipstick!

  30. Definitely my favorite series that you do. It’s always amazing to see what people do for routines. I feel like I have struggled to find products that I really love and commit to. Especially skincare. I have sensitive, acne prone skin and I’ve been desperately trying to find products that work. When I see people’s lovely skin, I think “Hm…would their routine work for me?” Still trying to figure that one out.

    Loved the nose-blowing tip because I’ve totally gotten foundation on and boom, time to blow my nose. What a pain!

  31. A day dance party! Live this idea. You inspired me to make a ‘Kit dance party’ playlist for my 1yr old son. Spending tonight filling it with music my husband and I love. Something to rival the groove hypnosis the Wiggles seem to have over him!

    Cailin, I have not worn lipstick since I became a mum as my son would be covered in lipstick kisses. How do you get around this? Are there any lovely red lipsticks out there you would ware, and wont kiss off?

    Thanks Cailin and Jo!

  32. Loved Cailin’s interview! Hands down the best, she is lovely

  33. One of my favs of this series that you’ve done! She seems lovely and I love how you met! Its hard to ask for other mom’s numbers on the playground!

  34. this was such a great Q&A…she looks so much like Taylor Swift in some of the photos! Ive now got so many tabs open to check out the products and colours! haha

  35. Oh yay someone who LOVES makeup and doesn’t just slick on tinted balm and mascara and runs out the door. Loved loved this one. =D

  36. Cailin is just stunning! Love that hair. Great post :)


  37. I loved this post, and in particular love the beauty uniform series. Am I out of line to think about putting in something about how all these women stay so thin? I have a constant battle with weight, and whenever I read these I think – wow, these women are so gorgeous AND skinny! I know the short answer is discipline, but I wanted to put that out there. Is it just me?

  38. This is such a fun series! Thank you! PS When you run out of friends, maybe interview some of your readers? ;)

  39. Hands down, the best yet! Loved yours too but I’m talking about your friends! I absolutely loved that she LOVES makeup. I am dying to try a few things! Makes me feel fab that we enjoy the same blush and mascara! You have the best blog EVER. I seriously love every single post you do. From makeup, apartment tours, Toby dates and Being Mortal documentary, love, love, love your posts and interests!!! Also, sorry for your recent losses.

  40. She seems normal and like she’d be great to be friends with! I love love love that she uses drugstore brands amidst the other products. She really is just a gorgeous lady!

  41. Great interview! and Cailin you have great taste in music – you have to add Sinkane to that mix! a Brooklyn Musician, super funky/indie, so good. Check out “How We Be”!

  42. Your beauty routine seems so approachable! Thanks for sharing. Quick question – which do you put on first, the tinted moisturizer or the primer? I use the LM tinted moisturizer but am interested in adding the primer to the mix. Also, do you use BB cream in addition to those, or alone on different days? How do you decide between the two if so? Just trying to nail down a good system for myself and curious how others do it. Thanks!

  43. I love your morning ritual!! I am a huge fan of having a good relaxing routine in the morning cause mornings totally set the tone for the day! :)
    And cant emphasize the importance of make up enough! Looking good = feeling good!

  44. Lovely lady! It’s true that it takes courage sometimes to befriend someone :) Good for you, Joanna!

  45. Fun read! Great interview – read everything down to the last bit! Love her! x

  46. @ashley, that’s so funny because my guy friend emailed me today and said he thought she looked like taylor swift!

  47. margaret, that’s SUCH a good question. will get on it!!

  48. linds, that’s a GREAT idea. we should do a tutorial about doing your own wedding makeup. will start working on one! ps and congratulations!!

  49. Love this post! That thing about the dance parties, so sweet. I totally agree about blowing your nose first haha!

  50. Seriously, gaggle of beautiful friends! I really appreciated the last comment about stepping back and not allow negativity spin out of control. Such a good reminder, even if you are not in fashion.

    Thanks for the interview and all the fun tips!

  51. Ahhhh! What Timing! Help: professional makeup for wedding or not!? I just hired an outrageously expensive professional & am so not sure what to do. I hardly wear any makeup, but want the pictures to look good (the other big splurge was the photographer). What she said rang so true to me, but I’m hesitant to go with a regular make-up person. I’m 35 and feel too old for this ��. I’d love to hear more advice about this topic. Thanks!

  52. Loved this one! I feel like I can totally relate to her! And her excitement about makeup made me happy! :)

  53. She’s beautiful! And her baby is very cute!

  54. Always love a bit of inside snoop :)I love being exposed to products that i’ve never heard before

  55. This was a cute interview. I liked that I got a sense of the person behind the makeup-wearer.

  56. Ahh I love that baby selfie! Also SOOO agree with the blowing your nose before make up as well. I have started doing that. Also it makes you less likely to sneeze after you put on your mascara, which is super annoying.

  57. Margaret, you should read Skin Cleanse and try one of the recipes in it for making your own remover. I loved this book. Jo, you should check it out too. I’ve been telling everyone I meet about it because it is so good.

  58. I looooved this post. Made me feel part of something simpler, more realistic, authentic. Wise young girl.

  59. Okay I’ll say this onnneeeee more time. YOU HAVE THE MOST BEAUTIFUL FRIENDS!

    :) Love these, as always.


  60. Even though I don’t wear make-up as much as I used to in the past (something about three young boys running around) it used to be MY thing. I was the one everyone would turn to for a big night out. I even did my girls’ make up on my wedding day. I called it my art. I love sitting down in front of my full length mirror with my make up laid out and just time to play. It’s so fun and can make me feel so powerful with just a bit of color!

  61. I love this series! Wish you’d ask about how people remove their makeup too though. It’s a constant quest for me to find products that don’t hurt/sting/leave red marks.

  62. She reminds me of Taylor Swift! I get her overall beauty philosophy.

  63. This lady got a nice routine, and pretty amazing taste in music!

  64. Great beauty uniform. And again: hair down on the beach with your baby is secret to beauty.

    Re: Make-up for your wedding. I did my own (although I definitely went to sephora for a tutorial, first). Like this post, I really wanted to look like myself on my wedding day – and that went for my dress and hair, too. I think it depends on what you want for yourself. I had plenty of friends who were really looking forward to the most-beautiful-princess-at-the-ball aspect of the wedding, and for them, having a pro do their make-up was part of the fun.

  65. one of the loveliest girl I’ve ever seen! ans so natural-looking,even with make upon!

  66. Cailin, you are gorgeous and you have a great head on your shoulders, too! Love your attitude toward motherhood, lighthearted perspective on life, and your music taste sounds a heckuva lot like mine! Thanks for the beauty tips. :)

  67. She’s like a more mature Taylor Swift – and I mean that in the nicest way!

  68. great sharing… and she looks like Taylor Swift!

  69. Absolutely loved this post! Favorite yet. She’s so real and relatable.

    Which brings me to a topic I would love more insight on– Doing your own make up for your wedding! I am getting married in November and this is something I go back and forth on. Would love more insight on this topic. How many people have done their own wedding make up? Have they regretted it? I get so many mixed messages from family members and friends on doing my own make up.

  70. Oops! Sorry, I think it was the sixth pic!

  71. Is it just me, or in the 5th pic down (the one in the gray sweater holding her son), does she bear some resemblance to Taylor Swift? Pretty lady with some great tips! Thanks :)

  72. Great routine! Loved this one!! So real and likeable.

    Made me think of a great post– Doing your own make up for your wedding! I have gone back and forth on this, have gotten mixed comments from family and friends and I just can’t decide…. Would love to hear more on this subject! And would love pictures.

  73. lindsey, i agree! i love that she’s so into it. she always has really fun tips. sometimes when we’re hanging out at her place, we’ll play around with lipsticks. she wears so many great colors!

  74. LWF, haha, yes, i definitely asked her out :)

  75. I can’t help but be curious about her age considering how young she looks and that she’s been married for 8.5 years, a few years after college! Something must be working! ;-)

  76. What a beautiful woman! I really enjoyed this – she is so down to earth and relatable. Love that she is equally excited with a drug store find as an expensive find.

  77. This is my favorite so far! She seems so lovely. I can see why you were drawn to each other at the playground!

  78. what a meet cute! (i’m referring to you and her, not her and her husband, which is also cute!)

  79. Our toddler also loves dancing to Phoenix and I’m blown away by the feeling of time being on fast forward since becoming a mother. I’m finally going to give red lipstick a try. :) This was such a good one, Joanna!

  80. Fabulous! Love these and she seems lovely! I love the pink lipstick in her first photo – it is the perfect pink – is there any way she would remember what it is?

  81. Have you ever had someone tell you something and your mind is broken open and you don’t know how you lived before you heard their wisdom? That’s how I feel about the nose-blowing tip. So simple, but I hadn’t realized its importance until now. (This sounds hyperbolic, but I’m serious!)

  82. I sense that she and I have similar hair, except for that I straighten and dye mine. She’s inspired me to go more natural! So lovely.

  83. I have written down the products for this one more than any other. I especially love how you two met! Will be buying my first NARS lip and Maybelline blush.

  84. I love this beauty routine the best so far (besides your own)! While everyone in the past has been so great, down to earth and it’s always great to hear what others are doing, I feel like everyone else hasn’t been too into makeup, if that makes sense. I LOVE makeup and trying new things so it’s fun to hear from a lovely lady that is also into those things too! Thanks Joanna!

  85. So down-to-earth and accessible! Loved this one.